News

FX’s Landgraf Signs a Three-Year Renewal

5/24/2008 2:00 AM Eastern

FX Networks president and general manager John Landgraf has reached a new three-year contract to remain at News Corp.’s flagship cable-entertainment channel, FX, where he looks to maintain success with scripted dramas, find more original comedies and expand new-media offerings.

Landgraf retains responsibility for the entertainment and business operations of FX; the recently introduced FX HD; Fox Movie Channel; and also FX Productions, an in-house studio Landgraf and his team created in 2005.

During his tenure, FX has attracted top acting talent and enjoyed success with edgy original hourlong series that have often pushed the envelope in terms of violence and sexual topics, winning critical acclaim. Shows such as The Shield, Nip/Tuck, Rescue Me and the Glenn Close vehicle Damages have branded the network as an alternative to broadcast-network fare.

“We really feel we’ve reached a maturity for dramas,” Landgraf said in an interview. “We’re pretty much there with dramas. … Our goal in original programming is really to maintain the position we have.” (See 5:4, page 33.)

Challenges include finding a replacement for The Shield, which kicks off its seventh and final season in September. Landgraf hopes an FX-owned production, Sons of Anarchy, will “capture and appeal to” that audience. The show, about a motorcycle gang in northern California, has been described as “Easy Rider meets The Sopranos,” he said.

Landgraf expects the network this year to add a companion comedy for FX production It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and expand more into the comedy genre generally. FX has enough episodes of It’s Always Sunny to sell it into syndication, he said.

FX also plans to beef up new-media offerings: By securing rights to make originals it doesn’t own available on demand, it expects to launch a video-on-demand slate, possibly this fall. FX already has created mini-seasons of core franchises Rescue Me and The Shield for VOD, and launched FX HD in October 2007.

FX also plans to bolster its Web site with original content and streamed video.

Landgraf joined FX as president of Entertainment in January 2004 and became president and general manager of FX Networks in May 2005. During that time, the network has achieved all-time highs in total viewers and in its target audience of adults 18 to 49.

The network has eight original series on its primetime schedule, including six original dramas, a record for cable.

September